Burkina Faso Fragility Brief 2021

For decades, the land-locked country of Burkina Faso has avoided the exogenous shocks and internal conflicts that have plagued so many of its neighbors. As a result, authoritarian rule has overseen the informal social systems primarily responsible for steady incremental increases in Burkinabé capacity. In 2014, a groundswell of democracy overtook the country, and the advent of civilian leadership signaled that the potential for an exit out of fragility was on the horizon. However, the incursion of regional Islamic extremist groups has challenged the resilience of state security mechanisms as well as the capacity of its fledgling democratic institutions, demonstrating that Burkina Faso remains fragile and threating to undo hard-earned gains. It is unlikely that Burkina Faso will be able to withstand further shocks over the long term, and a failed state in central West Africa could have cascading effects in the global fight against violent extremism. For a middle power such as Canada, the options to support Burkina Faso are dependent upon Canadian national interests and desired levels of commitment.